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The SAM Coupé is an 8-bit British home computer that was first released in late 1989. It was originally manufactured by Miles Gordon Technology (MGT), based in Swansea in the UK.
It is perhaps best known as being largely compatible with 48K Spectrum games, which it has an emulation mode for, it is often seen as the spiritual successor to the Sinclair machine.
According to Alan Miles, SAM was said to stand for Some Amazing Micro, or Some Amazing Machine.
MGT launched the machine late in 1989, missing the crucial Christmas sales period, further problems were raised by bugs in the ROM, which meant that 8,000 replacement chips had to be sent out to customers. With a large stockpile of unsold machines, MGT were forced into bankruptcy in June 1990.
A new company was formed by Miles and Gordon straight after the collapse of MGT, called Sam Computers LTD, and new hardware was released, one added a 32,768 colour palette, this company survived until 15th July 1992, largely by reducing the price of the machine to under £200.
The remaining computer stock was bought in November 1992 by West Coast Computers, who began selling the Sam Elite, the only difference being 512K RAM as standard, and normal 3.5 Disk Drives, this company closed in 1994, probably as the old stock dried up.
Released at a time when the 16-bit systems the Atari St and Commodore Amiga were becoming prevalent in UK homes, there was little market for an 8 bit system, which although it had good features such as a 256 colour palette and new sound hardware, there was little commercial software released for it, what was released is considered rare and quite expensive to source today.
There was however a good magazine following and homebrew scene, a lot of good conversions of popular games ended up on the cover of these publications.
The hardware was designed by Bruce Gordon, and the main elements were a Z80 processor clocked at 6Mhz, nearly twice that of the Spectrum, 256K of RAM, upgradeable to 512K, there is 32K of ROM and software could be loaded via cassette, but the front of the unit accommodated up to two 3.5'' disk drives.
As it was designed for the UK market, it used the PAL TV System, and had four video modes, the most advanced was capable of displaying 16 colours out of the 256 available palette. The sound capabilities are relatively impressive, having six channels of 8 octaves.
The PSU is a modified version of the Amstrad MP-1 Module, which was designed to power a CPC 464 on a normal TV.
Other features are a scart socket, a 64 pin external connector for peripherals, a mouse socket, for which through an adaptor, an Atari ST one could be used, there is a DIN connector for stereo sound, light pens and guns, a midi port, also used for networking, and an Atari style 9 pin joystick connector, and just like the Spectrum, a 3.5mm socket for loading to and from cassette.
Good condition but with faulty disc drive. Includes leads, manual, and power pack.
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This exhibit has a reference ID of CH503. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.
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